Traveling down the Rhone. Lyon to Avignon.

Hi all! So we’re traveling down the Rhone and spending time in Vienne, Tain-lHermitage, and Avignon. I know there are previous posts about recommendations, but I was hoping to find some updated info. Any wineries, restaurants, and activities you might suggest would be greatly appreciated. My girlfriend and I are very active so hikes and stuff are on our list of things to do. However, this will be a pretty wine-centric trip.

Also any insight into the laws on how many bottles we can bring back to the states and what the most efficient way is would be awesome. This is my first time to France, so anything you can provide is helpful.


Under federal law, there is no limit on how much wine you can bring in for personal use–but at some point the quantity would raise a question about whether it is, indeed, for personal use. I have never been questioned, and have not heard of others being questioned, when bringing in two cases. You are responsible for paying the import duty (on the order of $1-2 per liter, after the first duty-free liter) and excise tax ($0.20-0.30 per 750 ml bottle), but the paperwork is more trouble than it’s worth for most customs agents, and nine times out of ten they just wave you through. Read more:

Some states have their own limits, so it makes sense to check with the alcohol authorities in the state where you will go through customs. Directory: TTBGov - Alcohol Beverage Control Boards

A couple of suggestions for your trip:

  1. The quickest route from Lyon to Avignon is the A7 autoroute down the Rhone valley, on the east side of the river. For a wonderful scenic diversion, leave the A7 at Tain-l’Hermitage; cross the Rhone river to Tournon-sur-Rhone; take the D86 and D219 south to the intersection with D287; take D287 to Saint-Romain-de-Lerps, then on to Saint-Peray; from St. Peray, cross the river to Valence where you rejoin the A7. Along the way:
  • Enjoy breathtaking views of the Rhone valley as the road climbs through Saint-Joseph vineyards on the steep hills above the river.
  • Stop at the Pic de Saint-Romain-de-Lerps, a Romanesque chapel flanked by two viewing platforms with a 360 deg. view encompassing 13 départements. On a clear day you can see Mont Pilat to the north, Mont Blanc and the Alps to the east, and Mont Ventoux to the south.
  • Grab a bottle of the local sparkling wine (Saint-Peray) and some charcuterie, bread, and cheese in St. Peray, then hike to the top of the nearby ruins of Chateau de Crussol, a 12th century limestone castle 200m above the surrounding plain, for a picnic.
  • If the budget allows, spend the night at Maison Pic in Valence, and dine at its Michelin *** restaurant.
  1. A not-to-be-missed experience if you are a lover of Southern Rhone wines (or wine lovers in general, for that matter) is a meal at La Beaugraviere in Mondragon (between Valence and Chateauneuf-du-Pape). Subscribe to read | Financial Times


Pic de Saint-Romain-de-Lerps:

Chateau de Crussol: Château de Crussol - Wikipedia

Maison Pic: Maison Pic, Boutique Hotel in Valence, France – Relais & Châteaux

La Beaugraviere: Subscribe to read | Financial Times

I concur with Robert’s suggestion of a hike to Crussol. I have family (well, only my aunt now) who live at the base of the “falaise de Crussol,” and did the hike many years ago. It’s a short and easy hike, and it’s really lovely – a perfect spot for a picnic, as Robert noted. The bonus: Cornas is literally next door to Saint-Péray, so it’s easy to work in some visits to a few vignerons.

Well, Paul Bocuse of course.

Friends went to Pic and enjoyed it.

I was blown away by the beauty of Les Baux and it is early so there are not so many tourists. They have an interesting art projection installation on the quarry walls. Animated Bosch etc. like you are in the painting.

Cave de Tain won best winery in France in 2015 or something like that. At the base of L’Hermitage hill so you get a good view and you can see Chapoutiers horses plowing the rows. in front of the winery. They spent something like 10mil on renovations for single block wines in a new concrete fermentation area. Wines are good and worth the stop.

Thank you all for the recommendations. I’m making a list of stops and wineries. Please keep em coming! Not sure if it’s very pertinent, but we’re heading there in the end of June/early July.

Chapoutier’s horse. Biodynamic blocks. Fascinating vine management but probably the best you can do with the steepness in the area. We walked through the higher blocks with one of the Cave de Tain folks that has her own brand called An Other Day. Hard to believe they plow some of the rows with a rototiller attached to a simple pulley system. OSHA would be all over them. Probably like 40 degrees.

If you look close in the middle of the photo you can see the guy rototilling. Crazy MF.

Go here too, in Lyon. Praline heaven. Don’t forget to buy some to bring back as they seem to be unavailable anywhere but Lyon.

Recommended vigneron visits:

  • Mathilde et Yves Gangloff, Condrieu (wines: Saint-Joseph blanc et rouge; Condrieu; Cote-Rotie) - 2 Rue de la Garenne, 69420 Condrieu, +33 4 74 59 57 04
  • Pierre Gonon, Mauve (wines: Saint-Joseph blanc et rouge) - 34 Avenue Ozier, 07300 Mauves, +33 4 75 08 45 27
  • Domaine Alain Voge, Cornas (wines: Cornas; Saint-Peray; Saint-Joseph) - 4 Impasse de l’Équerre, 07130 Cornas,
  • Clos du Mont-Olivet, Chateauneuf du Pape (wines: Chateauneuf du Pape rouge et blanc) - 3 Chemin du Bois de la Ville, 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, +33 4 90 83 72 46
  • Domaine Charvin, Orange (wines: Chateauneuf du Pape) - Chemin de Maucoil, 84100 Orange,

Highly recommend this vigneron visit in Ampuis:

Domaine Jamet Corinne, Jean-Paul & Loïc JAMET - Domaine Jamet

Tracking this thread :slight_smile:

Also don’t forget Lyon silk for the special ones in your life. There is still one in-house factory that is well know for the artist prints like Klimt, Degas, Chagall etc. They also do hand painted one-offs. around 60-70 euros.

visit here if you have time and find Rue Drag-Ass LOL,+France/@45.9508744,4.5391263,13.06z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x47f4886b8a31e0bb:0x408ab2ae4bb2080!8m2!3d45.950297!4d4.584913

These are all fantastic. Any suggestions on wineries to visit in the Roussillon, Gordes, and Bandol region?

I have a few Lyon recommendations that I will post when I get back home. Great food city and there is also a killer wine bar / shop that you definitely need to check out.

I heard Antic Wines in Lyon is one of the best wine shops EVER! Looking forward to your report.

We went last summer. Stayed 3 nights in CdP and went to many domaines. Happy to recommend my favorites. We were able to go to 3-4 a day and still have time to do side trips like the Roman amphitheater in Orange, the Pont du Gard, go to the Abbey and lavender fields near Gordes and do some great dinners.
The area was fantastic but we spent literally no time in Avignon.

We drove up to Hermitage and spent the day in Tain. Jaboulet and Chapoutier have store fronts. We did a nice prix fixe lunch at Jaboulet and did the La Chapelle tasting. It was the only time I paid for tasting wine during the entire time in the Rhone Valley but it was worth it. Chapoutier opened a bunch of wines including the Pavilion. I highly recommend an appointment at Delas. They have a tasting room if you just want to taste and not tour but we tasted about 15 wines including the Tourettes and Bessards which are now amongst my favorite Hermitage wines. The people just walking into the shop didn’t seem to get those two. Climb (or drive and climb) to the chapel on Hermitage. The views of the Rhone are incredible.

After at Tain we drove back down to Valence to go and stayed at Maison Pic. I highly recommend this as it deserves its Michelin 3 stars. The neighborhood is nothing great but the experience there was a once in a lifetime type. Worth the splurge.

On the way up to Lyon we spent the day in Ampuis and Vienne. At Cote Rotie we went to Jamet and Rostaing. Guigal was closed when we went.

I brought back two cases in shipper boxes and a few mags in suitcases.

It is a great trip. Enjoy

The wine shop in Lyon was Muraato. I think they have a website if you want to check it out. They do tastings and have great prices.

I think Les Halles is definitely worth checking out. Lots of food stalls to grab different quick bites for lunch. The chocolates and hot chocolate at Bernachon (which was about a 10 minute or so walk from Les Halles) are stupendous and much better than many more recognizable names.

For a typical bouchon, we absolutely loved Le Garet. Nothing fancy and it’s not meant to be but just chock full of locals and great food at reasonable prices. Lyon is full of multi star Michelin restaurants and perhaps we just chose poorly (didn’t love La Mere Brazier) but we had similar underwhelming experiences at Michelin star restaurants in Paris as well and we much prefer the local bouchan and bistros.

If stopping in Valence and you don’t want to go all out $$$ wise at Pic, check out one star La Cachette (I don’t think they have their own website). Excellent food, and a well priced (and very fun) wine list. I’ve eaten in the restaurant once and at a private dinner cooked by the chef in someone’s home. Both were excellent.

Also in Valence, is “André” - Pic’s bistro. It is fairly expensive (both food and wine) and it was a bit disappointing.

For an affordable hotel, Hotel Atrium works fine. It has all the charm of an IKEA showroom, but it is clean, modern, and quiet.